So, you know I decided to go to Baylor for grad school, you know why social work, and you saw a bunch of pictures I took when visiting BU, but here's a little bit of the reason why I picked Baylor.
One reason I was unsure about Baylor is because of the strong religious association the school has, and the faith-based approach the school of social work advertised. I am not a religious person, I didn't grow up with any teachings of faith. I occasionally get to thinking about it and Kyle answers to the best of his knowledge when my stream of questions arise (he grew up going to Presbyterian church). I like learning about the Bible, but having no faith to fill in the gaps, it leaves the logic apparently flawed, and I'll never really "get it" for myself. So when I received emails from people signing off with "Blessings, So-and-So at Baylor," it made me feel a little weird. And when I went in for the preview day, I had concerns that I wouldn't fit in or that my lack of religious knowledge and experience would put me at a disadvantage. Other potential students were talking about how God led them there and how he told them it was their path. I sat quietly and ate my lunch. The Army stationed Kyle in Texas, and that's why I'm here looking at Baylor- it is close enough for me to get to. I didn't say anything, and towards the end of the day I was scrambling to think of the right way to ask my question- how I, someone with my lack of background or experience, would fit in at Baylor. Would my lack of belief be a problem? (This being said, I had really great feelings about the school all through the day. I was giddy with excitement, and couldn't stop smiling despite the growing migraine attacking my brain and looking down every time someone talked about God or Jesus.) Luckily, somebody else sort of asked the question during the student panel, asking how big a part the faith-based approach really is. The students answered that it is really what you make of it; some take faith into consideration and talk about it more, working it into their studies, and others hardly do. So, this reassured me enough that, while there might be some awkward or slightly uncomfortable times ahead, it shouldn't negatively effect my education or experience. Faith isn't all about religion, after all, and I appreciate an opportunity to learn more about things I don't quite understand, and to become more comfortable when the topic arises. I left Baylor feeling really excited. With a major migraine, but still really excited.
Baylor appealed to me for several different reasons. It is in a much smaller city than Austin, and the school is really easy to get to right off the highway. The School of Social work recently moved to a new building downtown, only a few minutes away from main campus, but far away enough to assure stress-free parking all the time. I was totally OK with being in our own little Social Work bubble, and there is a shuttle running to and from main campus. These may seem like little things, but I'm expecting grad school to be hectic and stressful, so I want to make sure to keep extra stressors to a minimum. Baylor is a smaller school, but with all the benefits and qualities of a big school (so says the dean). Everyone there was really friendly, genuinely interested, and excited. I liked campus; it was impressive even though I may not be spending too much time there. The way the week usually breaks down (for the first year at least), is M/W/F are classes, and field internships T/Th. The good news here is that they have internships here in Temple, Killeen, and surrounding areas, so there is a chance I may have an even shorter drive for half the week (even if not, Waco is still a much easier drive than to Austin every day). One of the professors told me she also lived in Temple, so that was reassuring that the trip would certainly be manageable. I'm excited to jump right into an internship first semester. The first year is a more generalist practice year, so that you can get experience on a micro, mezzo, and macro level, and second year more focused in whatever direction you choose. I just today had a phone interview/chat with the field placement advisor, and it only made me more excited to get started! Hopefully within the next few weeks I will have my placement all set up!
In my situation, the one where I have to live where the Army tells us, I couldn't be too picky with my options for school, but I am lucky that both UT and Baylor are within distance for me, or I'm not sure what I'd be doing about school. I'm not one of those people who ever had their heart set on going to a certain school, or ever felt particularly tied and dedicated to a school, so I'm just glad I will get to go somewhere! I'm looking forward to the grad school experience of being with people hopefully equally as interested and hard working, something that can be really lacking with undergrads.